Statistics show that the number of public Wi-Fi hotspots all around the world is currently growing. It is estimated that the figures shall definitely explode to 5.8 million by 2015; this, however, does not include community hotspots, or the shared Wi-Fi access among end users. But, what are the risks of using public Wi-fi hotspots?
Sadly, along with the number of public Wi-Fi hotspots growth, is the heightened security risks end-users and businesses are faced with. One good example is where thru public hotspots, it is highly susceptible to data traffic and communications to be read and intercepted as they traverse along unprotected and not encrypted networks.
This can be prevented if you are using VPN software. Nonetheless, studies show that there are only 18% of end-users who actually use a VPN client as they connect online via these public Wi-Fi hotspots.
Some users complain of lacking the necessary technical knowledge in using VPN software in order to encrypt and protect their data online. Hence, the low turnout of web users utilizing said software over a public Wi-Fi hotspot connection. Nevertheless, you can still ensure your online security if you do the following guidelines below. Learn how to counter the risks of using public Wi-fi hotspots.
Use your VPN client
To start with, always commence your hotspot log-on from within the VPN client; just be sure it has an integrated personal firewall. This will enable the administrator to define the standard web browser or any downgraded web browser for secure VPN log on. Such that, each time a user chooses ‘hotspot login’ at the VPN client, the integrated firewall is for the time being is opened for the length of the procedure, and the hotspot login website will remain displayed.
Yet another way for you to secure hotspot logon is with the aid of Wireless Internet Service Provider Roaming or WISPr protocol into the VPN client. This will surely do away with the need for a web browser altogether.
Make sure the VPN client is secure
It is likewise essential to make sure that the VPN client has security mechanisms that are capable of detecting whether the user is using a secure network, vis-à-vis an insecure one. The moment the VPN client finds the secure network, the integrated firewall shall then activate the rules that have been configured.
For the record, admins typically define stringent firewall regulations for unknown or insecure networks. Upon doing so, the VPN client will not only recognize the IP address ranges of particular server services but, nonetheless ensure that the VPN client utilizes a certificate-based authentication for identifying secure networks.
As opposed the described IP address range detection, the latter technique of ‘friendly network detection’ does away with the possibility of IP address range manipulation.
IPSec VPN connections
For end-users who are unable to access the corporate network thru the standard IPsec connection in entirely unknown public Wi-Fi hotspots like for instance in hotels or restaurants, look for VPN technologies that can easily recognize their VPN gateways whenever they cannot be reached. The VPN client software must be able to automatically switch to a modified IPsec protocol mode and mimic the HTTPS so as to set up a secured VPN tunnel.
In case you are considering SSL to connect to the web, think twice. IPsec connections add a little load on the resources of VPN gateways, and all IPsec security systems, like the concurrent usage of certificates for instance, since they are still available in the modified state.
Public Wi-Fi hotspots safety does not have to be a reason for alarm. In case businesses can fill the gaps upon login and connection set-up processes are closed. And as they strictly enforce firewall rules and end-user awareness, and proceed with the appropriate encrypted VPN technology, connecting thru airports, hotels, restaurants’ network can be just as safe as when done thru once own Local Access Networks (LANs).
What do you think? What are the risks of using public Wi-fi access? Let us know in the comments below.